Fatherly Love in the City of Sin

By By Tim Yanni and By Tim Yanni

By Tim Yanni

There’s really nothing that compares to going to a college football game and spending time with good friends. That’s what I got the opportunity to do the weekend I took a trip to Las Vegas with the U’s Newman club to see the Utes take on UNLV.

The actual purpose of the trip was to see Father Bart Hutcherson, who was Newman’s campus minister before being transferred to UNLV?but the fact that the U’s football team was in town made the trip that much more enjoyable.

In fact, since I am new to the U and to Newman, I didn’t even know Father Bart, so the game was my primary incentive to make the 900-mile round trip.

But I can say that I wasn’t disappointed with Father Bart or the hospitality that he and the UNLV Newman club showed us during our three-day stay in sin city.

About 15 of us made the journey to UNLV, where we were greeted by Father Bart and a good 30 to 40 UNLV students who treated us to a pizza dinner and a “get-to know-you” Polaroid camera scavenger hunt along Las Vegas Boulevard.

We were allotted two hours to walk from Treasure Island to MGM Grand and shoot photos of the sites that a series of clues and questions hinted at.

I do have to add that I was on the team that not only finished first, but also made no mistakes and won the game.

The evening was followed up with Father Bart and the joint Newman clubs joining a praise and worship singing session before we finally got to sleep for the evening.

The next morning was probably the most surprising part of the trip as 7 a.m. came around and “My Sharona” blasted from the stereo not four feet away from me.

I do have to hand it to Father Bart, his method of waking up a group of college students was definitely one that worked. But believe me, if I could get back at him, I sure would. My heart is finally beginning to slow down from the shock.

After our cheery wake-up call, he cooked us breakfast along with the UNLV Newman members, and we ate together before driving to the stadium for the football game.

The Rebel guys told us that sitting together at the game would probably not be a great idea?due to rowdy UNLV fans?but we wrote off their comments as harmless taunting.

When we got to the stadium and cheered as the Utes ran out of the tunnel, however, we soon realized that their warnings were very legitimate. We took off running to the visitor section where we met up with ASUU members and U alums to cheer for our team in safety.

The Utes scored a touchdown on the opening drive, and Rebel fans throughout the stadium gave our cheering section one finger gestures. But, due to the looks on their faces, I don’t think they were telling us that they thought we were “number one.”

UNLV games are quite different from Utah home games in the fact that beer and other alcoholic beverages are served in the stands all the way through the end of the third quarter. Because of this, and quite possibly because of UNLV’s futility this season, the Rebel fans were rowdy, obnoxious and vulgar.

Not to be outdone, and not to be poor guests, our crowd did a good job of standing our ground with a few beers of our own and chants going back and forth between the Ute fans and the Rebel-faithful.

Of course, it didn’t help their side at all that Utah scored touchdown after touchdown to completely dismantle the Rebels, but it sure made things fun for us.

After the game, we met Father Bart. The Vegas Newman club had been long gone, which was understandable considering that we probably would have given them a well-deserved hard time.

Two or three of them met up with us later in the evening for dinner at the Rio hotel, where we waited in an hour-long line for a buffet that turned out to be well worth the wait and the cost.

We then went out walking again?but, due to the fact that Vegas casinos are all just about exactly the same, and it was getting very late, we went back to the Vegas Newman center.

I got my sleeping bag and went to sleep about as soon as we got back. Father Bart woke us up the next morning, but fortunately without the use of a stereo.

We got up, got dressed and began to head out due to a meeting that was going to take place in the center within the next hour. But before we left, we went to breakfast together and said our goodbyes.

We made it back to Salt Lake City just in time for 7 p.m. mass. After that, we were officially back to our reality instead of the fantasy that is Las Vegas, Nevada.

As I told one of my friends while we were still in Nevada, it’s always very fun to go to Las Vegas, but it sure feels good to get the heck out.

Tim welcomes feedback at: [email protected]